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post #1 of (permalink) Old 08-22-2010, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
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The Toxic Shame thread (the cause of SA for most)

The cause of social anxiety for the majority of us – Toxic Shame

This thread has been specifically created for the discussion of what I firmly believe to be the direct cause of SA for most people – toxic shame. Even though there are a few other threads in this forum about this condition, I wanted to create this thread to highlight the absolute importance that everyone here look into this fairly little known subject. However, even though it is a fairly little known condition, it is a more common condition than people realize. Hopefully I can help provide useful information in this thread that can help you understand why you are the way you are and what you can do about it.

Just to let everyone know, I am including info on this thread from posts made by myself and others from other threads concerning toxic shame. Therefore, some of my posts may include info I have copied and pasted from my and others’ posts. It makes it much more easier for me to get the message across here quickly and more efficiently. So, if you see any info I post that looks familiar in some way, then that is probably the reason.

After you read this thread (as well as the various books on the market about toxic shame), if you agree and come to the realization that toxic shame is the cause of SA for most people – and that SA is just a symptom of the true problem of that condition – I urge you to contact the administrators of this forum and request that they make this thread a "sticky". It is very important for this thread/topic to always be available for everyone to see, and that is why we need it to become a "sticky". I believe this subject is what most people here need to focus their attention on. It will help so many people here if they knew what the true problem is in their lives.

Toxic Shame: What is it? And what does it have to do with social anxiety?

As I said earlier, most people have SA because of a psychological state called toxic shame. So, what is toxic shame you say? It is the belief that one is inherently bad, defective, different, unworthy, or unlovable. Toxic shame is not just a belief that one does bad things, it is a deeply held core belief that one is bad. A person with this condition believes that one’s being is flawed, that one is defective as a human being. Once shame is transformed into an identity, it becomes toxic and dehumanizing. Most people that acquire toxic shame will usually acquire it as a child. However, depending on the circumstances, it is certainly possible it can happen later in life also.

It is important to understand that 'toxic' shame and 'regular' shame are not the same thing. They are very different.

Healthy shame (healthy guilt) would say, “I made a mistake or a blunder, and I can repair that blunder."
Toxic shame says, "I am a mistake - everything I do is flawed and defective."

Gershen Kaufman, the author of the book Shame, says: "Shame is the affect which is the source of many complex and disturbing inner states: depression, alienation, self-doubt, isolation, loneliness, paranoid and schizoid phenomena, compulsive disorders, splitting of the self, perfectionism, a deep sense of inferiority, inadequacy or failure, the so-called borderline conditions and disorders of narcissism."

So as you can see, SA is not the only condition that is toxic shame related. However, for our purposes, we will focus more on SA, shyness and toxic shame. Michael Pilinski, in his book Without Embarrassment, talks about how acute shyness is the result of toxic shame. And, John Bradshaw, in his book Healing The Shame That Binds You, says that "Shyness can be a serious problem when it is rooted in toxic shame."

Toxic Shame and it’s natural companions of fear and hiding

When we have toxic shame, we go into hiding. The condition causes us to hide many things about ourselves. This can result in a lifetime of cover-up and secrecy. This secrecy and hiding is the basic cause of human suffering. When we go into hiding, we of course begin living in fear... and vice versa.

It is obvious that toxically shamed people have anxiety… and anxiety = fear. BUT the reason one has that fear is because toxic shame causes them to have that fear. As John Bradshaw says, toxic shame causes a person to go into hiding. He/she hides their emotions ... their thoughts ... their feelings ... they try to hide their humanity – in which they try to hide that they are sexual, that they have emotions, that they have bodily functions, that they are imperfect beings. They hide their perceived imperfections because they fear their "flaws" (and thus their perceived unworthiness as a person) will be exposed. And, so, those with this crippling condition tend to live in secretiveness. So, yes, people with SA live with fear. Again, it is our toxic shame that causes us to hide and live in fear. When we hide from something, it is because we have fear. And obviously with all the hiding that we (SA'ers) do, it is just a natural reaction that we end up living in fear. And this is what leads to our SA - which, in reality, SA is really just a symptom (though a big symptom) and toxic shame is the actual problem.

In my next post below, I will go into the sources of your toxic shame, in which I will discuss how you came to acquire it.

"Shyness can be a serious problem when it is rooted in toxic shame." - John Bradshaw, toxic shame expert

Visit this thread link to find out the cause of SA for most of us and what to do about it:
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